Common European Sales law backed by EU parliament. Consumer organisations are concerned.

The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee voted in favour of the Common European Sales Law (CESL) this week (19 votes for, 3 against and 2 abstentions). The CESL is an ‘optional law’ to govern cross-border ‘distance selling’ purchases (i.e. mostly online buys). - A completely novel approach to market regulation which allows businesses to choose between national laws or CESL. The Commission stated that based on the principle of subsidiarity, the proposal uses an innovative approach to deepen the Single Market, and provides for a harmonised set of contract law rules which will co-exist with national contract law and not replace it.

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding welcomed this decision and sees in it an important signal from the European Parliament and a real breakthrough. It “is the right tool for cutting costs for SMEs while giving Europe's consumers more opportunities to shop across borders," said Reding. 

European consumer organisations are concerned that the law will lead to more complexity for consumers, increased legal uncertainty, duplication of existing EU consumer law (particularly for online transactions), circumvention of national regulation and the risk of reduced protection. “Affording European traders the leeway to decide which laws can bind them and protect consumers is an inappropriate means of consumer policy making. ‘Optional regulation’ is something of a contradiction in terms and will result in greater confusion for both consumers and traders. What European citizens and consumers need are modern laws providing reliable and clear protection when shopping online”, commented Ursula Pachl, Deputy Director General of the European consumer organisation (BEUC). She further argues: “MEPs need to be aware that today’s vote puts business firmly in the driving seat and reduces important consumer rights in a number of EU Member States, from UK to Greece, from Finland to the Netherlands and many more.”


Further information:

Source: European Parliament and BEUC